After two consecutive summers washed away by the pandemic, consumer durables company Usha International is optimistic about 2022 as the economy reopens. Saurabh Baisakhia talks to Christina Moniz about the company’s growth strategy in rural markets, plans to expand its product portfolio, its long-standing partnership with IPL’s Mumbai Indians, and more.

Offline retail is the strength of Usha. Was it challenging to ramp up your online presence during the pandemic?

From a consumer perspective, the home economy has been the buzzword for the past two years. People were looking for solutions to adapt to this new way of living and opted for devices with a wider range of functions. With online retail booming, we had to digitize all our processes to meet consumer needs. We are traditionally strong in the offline retail space; during the pandemic we had to ensure more integration between online and offline. That is why we have adapted our go-to-market strategy. We’ve strengthened our online presence – today the online channel accounts for 10-12% of our revenue, up from 4-5% before the pandemic.

During the holiday season, you saw 25% revenue growth in national markets. What factors contributed to this growth?

In rural markets, we consistently outperformed quarter-on-quarter. One of the main reasons for this is Usha’s focus on distribution in rural areas, with less than a million inhabitants. We are now present on most PINs in the country. This, in combination with our omnichannel approach, has worked well for us. Currently, rural markets account for 15-20% of our turnover.

The past two summers have been bleak for organized fan companies. Now that normality returns, what are your expectations for the summer, 2022?

We have an optimistic outlook for the summer this year. After the last two challenging summers, we expect the market to remain open this time. We launched a range of new coolers, fans and cookers this summer. Not only are we expanding the breadth of our portfolio, but we also have many aggressive marketing plans for digital, print, TV and radio. We have set aside `35-40 crore for the next four months for advertising and marketing.

We currently have good market share in most of the categories in which we operate. We still have some catching up to do in the home appliances sector which is a huge opportunity as it is a 10,000 crore segment. We have a 7-8% market share in this category and we aim to increase this to at least 15% in the coming years. While we will continue to strengthen our presence in categories where we are doing well, such as fans and sewing machines, we will also focus on significantly expanding the device portfolio as we move forward. We make investments in both our product portfolio and our brand.

This is your ninth year working with IPL’s Mumbai Indians. How has that helped the brand?

Usha and Mumbai Indians share synergy in terms of brand values. This partnership has helped strengthen our position in markets such as Maharashtra. These associations help drive strong customer engagement, while also strengthening the engagement of our dealers and employees. Given the popularity of the IPL, the association helps increase our brand awareness and allows us to strategically communicate new product launches.

The southern region currently accounts for 40% of the appliance market. How does Usha plan to increase its market share here?

The south is certainly an important market. Usha has made an effort to not only improve its presence in terms of reach, but is also building a strong portfolio for categories that are doing well in these markets. We have appointed Keerthy Suresh as our brand ambassador for the home appliance range in the South.

In fact, we have grown significantly in the past year. From a pan-Indian standpoint, Usha has a good double-digit market share in the North and East regions, and our goal is to grow our market share to a comparable number in the West and South in the coming years.

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This post Interview: Saurabh Baisakhia, President, Devices, Usha International was original published at “https://www.financialexpress.com/brandwagon/interview-saurabh-baisakhia-president-appliances-usha-international/2464554/”

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